Secure Mountain LLC: a secret underground data center in Duffield, Virginia

The Limestone Mine in Duffield Virginia

Back in 1952, Foote Mineral picked Sunbright, Virginia (a community very close to Duffield) to build the world’s largest lithium plant. One of the main reasons this location was chosen was due to the large reserves of high grade limestone located on site. Spodumene ore was shipped in from Kings Mountain, North Carolina, mixed with the limestone, and subjected to a chemical process in order to extract the lithium from the spodumene.

The limestone was mined using the room and pillar method. The result was large underground rooms that stretched for a reported 20 some miles. The temperature, being 200 feet underground, was a constant 55 degrees. One day, miners blasted into a cavern that contained a huge waterfall. This cavern was actually a back entrance into the mine at one time. Sediment buildup from running water has since reportedly made the connecting passageway too small to pass.

Allegheny Construction’s role at the former Foote Mineral site

Some time after Foote and its following successors left the Sunbright plant in Duffield, a company called Allegheny Construction stepped in and indicated their intent to reopen the limestone mining operations portion of the now abandoned property. (1) The limestone mining operations never materialized. But the name of one of Allegheny’s Construction’s chief company officers caught my eye: George Foresman.

George Foresman: A tangled web of D.o.D.contracting companies he does weave

George Foresman became the former Under Secretary of Preparedness at the Department of Homeland Security in 2005, then became the Under Secretary for National Protection and Programs at Homeland Security until he left in 2007, coincidentally the same year Allegheny Construction received their $6.83 million for an undisclosed facilities project.

(Other companies in which Foresman is involved: he is president of Highland Risk & Crisis Solutions, “a firm that assists corporations and government organizations in understanding and mitigating homeland and national security risks, both domestically and internationally.” (5) He is Director of Rivada Networks, LLC, another DoD contracting company. (6) He is also a member of the Strategic Advisory Group at Durango Group, LLC, a Colorado defense consulting firm where retired officers are “handsomely paid…to help private companies win and administer Pentagon contracts.”(8)

I ran into the caretaker of the abandoned Foote property a few months ago. My friend who I was with, mentioned to the caretaker that I would like to take a tour of the limestone mine. The caretaker said I needed to talk to George Foresman of Allegheny Construction. 

Allegheny Construction is located at this address:

allegheny-construction

There are two other companies also found at 2830 Nicholas Ave in Roanoke, Virginia:

Secure Mountain, LLC

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and Sunbright Land Company, LLC.

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This is going to get messy. But stay with me.

In 2007, Allegheny Construction “announces the company will invest $8 million in a Scott County site and plant and extract high-calcium limestone.” (1)

Interestingly, I found a 2006 report where the Department of the Army allocated $6.83 million to Allegheny Construction for “maintenance, repair or alteration of other conservation and development facilities.” (2) Was this money used to retrofit the limestone mine at Duffield for an underground government data center? We do know they never reopened mining operations like they implied.

Who really owns the old Foote Mineral property?

Which brings us to the Sunbright Land Company. Scott County, Virginia property records indicate that Sunbright Land Company bought the former Foote Mineral plant site and limestone mine on September 25, 2009.

Remember, Sunbright Land Company is also located at the same address as Allegheny Construction, and Secure Mountain: 2830 Nicholas Avenue, Roanoke Virginia.

Secure Mountain, LLC

Secure Mountain’s website states their underground data center is “formerly a limestone mine and Civil Defense relocation site”, “is optimally located in the mountains of western Virginia” and “encompasses 166 acres above ground, with 900,000 square feet (and 21 million cubic feet) of partitioned subsurface engineered space cut more than 1,200 feet back and protected by more than 200 feet of solid rock cover.”(4)

This article is from the Kingsport Times, 1964.

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This November 2012 Kingsport Times News article, “Scott supervisors approve permit for data center in Duffield” states:

“…supervisors voted unanimously to award Roanoke-based Secure Mountain, LLC a special use business permit that would allow the company to convert the former Foote Mineral Co. Mine into a data storage facility.” (3)

I have much more information to share about this underground facility in Duffield Virginia, and will do so in future posts.

 

(1) Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, 2007 Annual Report. http://leg2.state.va.us/dls/h&sdocs.nsf/By+Year/RD1112008/$file/RD111.pdf

(2) insidegov.com. http://government-contracts.insidegov.com/l/8934847/W912HN06C0052

(3) “Scott supervisors approve permit for data center in Duffield.” Kingsport Times News. November 7, 2012.
http://e-edition.timesnews.net/article/9053861/scott-supervisors-approve-permit-for-data-center-in-duffield

(4) Secure Mountain LLC’s website: http://securemountain.com/index.php

(5) George Foresman biography, Capstone. National Defense University, Department of Defense.
http://capstone.ndu.edu/SeniorFellows/tabid/10258/Article/566522/foresman-george-honorable-dhs-ret.aspx

(6) Rivada Networks website:
https://www.rivada.com/blog/2016/02/18/spectrum-sharings-brave-new-world/

(7) Bloomberg.com:
http://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=79243257&privcapId=59555478

(8) “Colo. firm employs most retired officers from mentor program.” Dec. 29, 2009.
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/military/2009-12-29-durango-officers-mentors_N.htm

5 thoughts on “Secure Mountain LLC: a secret underground data center in Duffield, Virginia”

    1. That’s an excellent question that the residents of Duffield and Scott County have every right to be asking.

      In 2014, according to online documents, Secure Mountain received $460,000 of TROF funds (Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund) which are specifically to be used “to assist in the creation of new jobs and investments.” George Foresman, of Secure Mountain, specifically told the Tobacco Commission when asking for these funds: “We feel like this adds a great opportunity not only as a stimulus to Scott County but to the region as a whole providing additional avenues for young men and women who were born and raised here to be able to remain here and be part of the information age 21st century technology workforce,which we think is important.” Have any of the young men and women of Scott County been offered one of these jobs yet?

      Records filed at the Scott County courthouse (which I will provide upon request) indicate approximately 1.5 years after purchasing the property from Chemetall Foote, Secure Mountain received a $3 million loan from a virtually unknown investment company in Sanibel, Florida called “Subterranean Investments.” The date of this transaction was February 1, 2011. Six years after receiving that loan, I hope for the sake of Subterranean Investments there is something more than rock down there.

      The Deed of Trust describes the property involved: “buildings and improvements now and hereafter erected on the real estate…fixtures, furniture, equipment and apparatus …for use in the operation of real estate, including, without limitation, heating, cooling, refrigeration, plumbing, electrical apparatus and equipment, boilers, engines, motors, dynamos, generating equipment, piping and plumbing fixtures, ventilating and vacuum cleaning systems, fire extinguishing apparatus, security systems, gas and electric fixtures, elevators, escalators, partitions, mantels, built-in mirrors…plants and shrubbery and furnishings of public spaces, halls and lobbies, all of which shall be deemed to be and remain a part of the property covered by this Deed of Trust…”

      If you were to drive by this property, it appears abandoned and unused. Residents will tell you there is no business activity taking place there, except for frequent sightings of a utility company conducting “improvements” of an electrical substation located nearby.

      Property records indicate one year after the old Foote Mineral property sold to Sunbright Land, an adjacent property sold to two private individuals based in Washington D.C. Are these two individuals, one who is “career military”, somehow involved with this underground data center? The Deed of Trust for the second property indicates a cave exists on this land. Maybe this cave is the alternative entrance to this underground fortress, allowing undetected access?

      Local area residents might be interested to know that despite no jobs being produced or given to local residents, the county at last knowledge, was contemplating buying this property! John Kilgore, at a January 2014 Southwest Economic Development Committee meeting, said “…there was some discussion earlier about the county getting some or an agreement to purchase the property.” Ned Stephenson added, “There’s a few dollars unobligated if you want to add those, and then we’ll negotiate with Secure Mountain over the piece of real estate, perhaps the big money that they’re hoping to get for that project.”

      Currently Sunbright Land/Secure Mountain pays property tax on this real estate at a market+land value of approximately $136,000.

  1. You write the most comprehensive, thorough, and researched articles that I have ever read by someone locally. This website is amazing.

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